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Young farmer focus: Thomas Vines, 21 - 'I hope to develop a website giving buyers understanding of how animals are reared'

Thomas Vines, 21, is a final year agricultural student at Harper Adams University. He helps on the family’s 180-hectare (444-acre) mixed arable and sheep farm where they run 200 pure-bred Meatlinc ewes and 150 mixed cross-bred Lleyns, Romneys and New Zealand Suffolks.

Home: My grandparents moved to Herefordshire in the 1960s, buying two farms after having looked for land to rent.

 

The business itself has changed rather significantly over the past 50 years, having moved away from the intensive arable and root crop enterprises in the late 1990s due to unforeseen circumstances.

My father, Richard, is now at the helm, and I help him when I am not at university.

 

Our focus is now on the sheep along with some contracting through summer and autumn.

 

The arable land is in a three-year crop rotation of winter wheat, potatoes, and oilseed rape, followed by a two-year grass ley for grazing and hay and silage purposes.

 

The arable ground is farmed in conjunction with a nearby farmer who oversees most growing and harvesting operations.

 

Meatlinc: A core enterprise in our business is the breeding and sale of commercial Meatlinc rams.

Our family joined the Meatlinc breed almost 30 years ago and has been producing rams for sale to customers throughout the UK, including the Isle of Man and Europe.

 

Last year we supplied a couple of rams to fellow producers in Austria.

 

The Meatlinc breed is in the terminal sire category and specifically bred to produce hardy, fast growing lambs of high carcase quality out of maternal pure or cross-bred ewes.

 

All sheep are kept in a strictly commercial manner, where we strive to keep a lid on production costs by making the most of home-grown grass and forage crops.

 

This has always been a high priority for our livestock since day one. All rams are sold from the farm.

 

While some customers come and choose their rams in person, many now rely on us to select appropriate rams for them.

 

The use of photographs combined with internet accessible records increasingly allows buyers the ability to select sires without visiting the farm.

 

I am hoping to develop a website to allow our buyers to have a closer understanding of how stock are reared throughout the year, with the added illustration of other interesting enterprises in the business.

 

Social media is another area I hope to develop and, like many my age, I am extremely interested in taking photos and filming what we do and are able to achieve.

 

Student life: Harper has given me some of the best years of my life.

 

Last year I had an extremely informative placement in Suffolk where I took a particular interest in anaerobic digestion and agronomy.

 

I would thoroughly recommend any aspiring entrant into the industry to consider attending some form of higher education.

 

Not solely for the academic side, but to develop lifetime contacts with other people in the industry, who can become great friends.


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